Jump to content
Nick4Iowa

What makes a Liberal?

Recommended Posts

I'm new here, but not new to political thinking; however I do not tend to identify with either conservatives or liberals. There are points to issues from both sides that I can agree with and understand. But the more liberal news and other media I read, the more confused I get about what make someone a liberal. I could be grasping at air here, but could you guys help me out?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I assume you're asking what qualifies you to post in the Liberals Only room? I am not a moderator, but I feel like sharing my opinion:

 

- Don't advocate voting for Republicans

- Discuss issues with civility

- Don't fall back on religion to justify your views

- Support your positions by explaining how they will improve life for lower or middle-class people

- No racism

- No sexism

 

Other than that, I don't think there's any one position that will get you labeled a non-liberal. If you decide to simultaneously argue for lower taxes, abortion restrictions, no minimum wage, more corporate money in politics, war on Iran, repealing the AHA, privatizing SS, and ending gay marriage, then you might be in trouble. In fact, you probably need to be opposed to at least half that list.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Liberals tend to favor regulated liberty with social equality, workers rights, and the public good.

Conservatives tend to favor morally-regulated liberty, corporate rights, and the Free Market.

To explain what I mean by each of those:

Regulated Liberty with social Equality:
Guns should be regulated.
Businesses should not be allowed to turn away customers, because that infringes on the customers right.
Legalize recreational drugs

Workers Rights:
Bosses have no right denying birth control to workers
Workers have a right to a living or fair wage
Workers have a right to maternity leave and sick pay.

Public Good:
Guns are dangerous, thus guns should be regulated
Government Assistance for those who can't make it on their own
Public Schools

On the other side...

Morally-Regulated Liberty
War on Drugs
Anti-Gay Marriage
Anti-Choice

Guns are an absolute right and shall not be infringed upon. Second Amendment is absolute

Corporate Rights
It's infringing upon a boss's right to force them to pay for coverage of something they are personally against.
It's infringing upon a businesses right to force them to do business with someone they do not want to do business with
Corporations avoiding taxes is natural because profits are in their best interest

Free Market
Competition is the driving force of improvement
Schools should compete with one another, because competition improves everything
Government is incapable of making something better than the Free Market

Liberals also tend to view war as a terrible thing, while conservatives view it as honorable.

For Conservatives, Liberty is about values. If anything stops you from upholding your values (gay marriage, birth control) then your rights are being infringed upon by the government.

For liberals, Liberty is about social equality. If someone prevents you from doing something someone else can do, then your rights are being infringed upon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I assume you're asking what qualifies you to post in the Liberals Only room? I am not a moderator, but I feel like sharing my opinion:

 

- Don't advocate voting for Republicans

- Discuss issues with civility

- Don't fall back on religion to justify your views

- Support your positions by explaining how they will improve life for lower or middle-class people

- No racism

- No sexism

 

Other than that, I don't think there's any one position that will get you labeled a non-liberal. If you decide to simultaneously argue for lower taxes, abortion restrictions, no minimum wage, more corporate money in politics, war on Iran, repealing the AHA, privatizing SS, and ending gay marriage, then you might be in trouble. In fact, you probably need to be opposed to at least half that list.

 

Good summation Renegade. I would add to it:-- Too many conservatives come in this room just to rail against liberals... Or mock them. Some make sarcastic comments with no real substance. Many times you don't see these posts because I hide them as soon as I can.

 

=========================================================================

 

Cecelia - I like your dual descriptions a lot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm new here, but not new to political thinking; however I do not tend to identify with either conservatives or liberals. There are points to issues from both sides that I can agree with and understand. But the more liberal news and other media I read, the more confused I get about what make someone a liberal. I could be grasping at air here, but could you guys help me out?

We all ask this, I don't contend with the rigid explanation of being conservative or liberal in the sense that one or the other makes you vote one way or the other based solely on one party line. The liberal view would justify dignity and fairness for all, equality should be more a goal for a government to work at than it currently does. Just being a basic person we understand life and see how others come on hard times through no fault of their own - empathy I think is vital. Liberalism is based upon idealism, and not on the constraints any one ideology. It's more philosophical, understanding what freedom means, than just stating we need a free market, low taxes and say the ability to own a gun or drive a car with no regulation.

 

Just because you are liberal does not mean you do not value hard work. Actually it's quite the opposite. There is joy in the accomplishment that hard work brings, yet one must take a honest look back on their life and the paths that allowed them to attain anything good in this life and say the truth --- without others helping me along the way I would not have had a chance. I say that only because I know it is absolutely true.

 

But please believe me, I have many conservative friends and even family members who would give the shirt off their back to help someone in need. The media and many of the politicians separate the so-called conservative and liberal folk and mostly only speak out in platitudes.

 

Welcome Nick4Iowa! If you're from Iowa, I'm sure you catch my drift!

 

Peace!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

however I do not tend to identify with either conservatives or liberals. There are points to issues from both sides that I can agree with and understand.

 

.. your not an ideologue. Yet, anyway

 

But the more liberal news and other media I read, the more confused I get about what make someone a liberal.

 

Such as what for example?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You should be confused. Liberals, being individuals, are nearly impossible to clearly define.

 

This is one of the major differences between them and conservatives, who are rigid and hidebound acolytes by definition

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You should be confused. Liberals, being individuals, are nearly impossible to clearly define.

 

This is one of the major differences between them and conservatives, who are rigid and hidebound acolytes by definition

 

This is probably the main reason I didn't chime in with my own definition. Contrary to what one hears from the right wing echo chamber, liberals are the true rugged individualists, varying widely in our political philosophies. What distinguishes us as liberals is that our philosophies are usually humanistic and don't overlap much into areas of right wing dogma.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Difficult question, as with a lot of definitions it is open to a wide variety of interpretations, including differentiating 'liberal' from 'progressive'. In America it seems like Democratic Socialists, Social Democrats, and Free Market 'Liberals' that believe in a 'free market economy' and also support civil rights or human rights, are lumped together.

 

So, if I was to define what I believe is a true liberal/progressive, it would be:

 

Support for human rights, and not distinguishing the right to healthcare, education, a living wage, or living conditions from that of being free from discrimination or persecution. That means always working towards a fairer and more compassionate society.

 

Believe in a tax system that distributes from the top 1% and very wealthy corporations, down to the rest of the population through social services, infrastructure, and so on.

 

Support Civil Liberties, even if at times this might conflict with economic, foreign policy, or national security. This means if not opposing the TPP and Freedom Act, then really taking a critical eye to both.

 

Be against corporate and government corruption, whether in politics or on the street, and support a cleaner political system and society as a whole.

 

Support minorities and political dissidents, if they believe a group or individual are being unfairly treated or discriminated against. This can mean LGBT, Muslims, Blacks, Jews, Atheists/Agnostics, illegal/legal immigrants, whistleblowers, and so on.

 

That's a brief list, but a meaningful one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To Be liberal you must have an IQ higher then George Bush and Sarah Palin Combined lol

 

I don't think that excludes anyone except Bush and Palin, with the possible exception of Michelle Bachmann.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As American terms they are almost purely non-sensical. It basically means not a Republican, if you are conservative, anyone with any independent thought is a liberal. I read once it's basically a difference of opinion on which nation to bomb and when.

 

The question is: if there were NO Republicans or Wingnut Christians, then who would be a liberal? What would define liberal then? If you look at the definition of economic liberalism, it looks like some form of conservatism.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism

 

What would elections look like without Republican Party? What other parties would emerge? If your idea of liberalism comes purely from NOT being Republican, then it's very limited.

 

The UK has an artist political party:

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-25050676

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The definitions of Conservative and Liberal have been hopelessly confused by..... 1 - A growing corporate owned takeover of government and..... 2 - The rise of a massive corporate propaganda machine designed to cultivate and encourage..... religious fundamentalists..... forced childbirth advocates..... racists..... gun enthusiasts..... sexists..... homophobes..... xenophobes..... the ignorant and superstitious. All the wedge issues have been used to allow corporations and their owners to get votes for their political mouthpieces in government who promptly make laws shoveling wealth to the top of the economic pyramid while giving massive lip service to their voters about the wedge issues.

 

"Conservative" authorities are inconsistent in their stated beliefs. Today's Conservative "principles" are designed to exploit the masses while further enriching the Plutocracy. They have nothing to do with actual Conservatism.

 

So today, anyone who rejects corporate propaganda is labeled a Liberal, Socialist or Communist by the corporate-owned mainstream media. The label being dependent on which corporate shill is holding forth at the time.

 

Small government, low taxes, a strong military (incredibly called "defense"), supporting the troops, being a Christian, emphasizing personal responsibility ..... None of these things are particularly Conservative or Liberal. They are designed to exploit.

 

The true meaning of Liberal is someone who is in favor of progressive ideas and not adverse to jettisoning the means and institutions of the past. Being Liberal, in many ways, means being pragmatic..... In favor of doing what works and moving on if it doesn't.

 

The real meaning of Conservative is someone who is in favor of keeping the old institutions and ways of doing things. And even bringing back old ones. Real Conservatives tend to see value in what has worked in the past and distrust the new.

 

But today's political reality has distorted the meanings of Liberal and Conservative beyond recognition.

 

So what would government look like in the US without the control and influence of Big Money? I think the terms Liberalism and Conservatism would begin to take on consistent meanings, based on more rational beliefs than now. To a large extent, the political crazies would be marginalized. And more than two parties would arise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I assume you're asking what qualifies you to post in the Liberals Only room? I am not a moderator, but I feel like sharing my opinion:

 

- Don't advocate voting for Republicans

- Discuss issues with civility

- Don't fall back on religion to justify your views

- Support your positions by explaining how they will improve life for lower or middle-class people

- No racism

- No sexism

 

Other than that, I don't think there's any one position that will get you labeled a non-liberal. If you decide to simultaneously argue for lower taxes, abortion restrictions, no minimum wage, more corporate money in politics, war on Iran, repealing the AHA, privatizing SS, and ending gay marriage, then you might be in trouble. In fact, you probably need to be opposed to at least half that list.

While all that is a factor.. to ME.......a Liberal sees a nation a SOCIETY as a TEAM GAME. We want us ALL to thrive, to be treated right. We ain't about Negative Emotional SHITT. It's a NATION... a link up og thousands of Communities. We ALL pull the load. We all get the rewards. If some sort of sugar coated monarchy was best? Why even break with England. If DICTATOR was so good? Why fight WWII? Democracy is ABOUT the RULE by the average guy. The AVERAGE guy may be a SUCKER a bit too often.. but....DEMOCRACY is a job we,as citizens.. need to do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As absurd as it sounds, the reason I support the democrats is because they are, for lack of a better word, the party of "peace".

 

They have not sent troops overseas to fight on foriegn soil since 1942.

 

While the navy, the air force, and the cia all continue to conduct operations while the democrats are in power, the democrats do not send the US army or the US marine core to fight overseas and die in pointless wars, and make every effort to end such wars when they are started by republicans.


I know it may sound like a fairly silly distinction, because there are many places such as Syria and Libya which the US conducts airstrikes and intelligence operations, but the democrats do not send "boots on the ground". I guess its really the best we can hope for in this day in age.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all the responses so far. Hoping for many more, over time.

 

People who pass through here and are never heard from again plus the regulars in this room have already made their unique contributions.

 

I pinned this thread a short while ago so it can become a compilation of perspectives on what it means it means to be a Liberal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you bludog, I sometimes forget the original meaning of liberal and conservative.

 

I think its important to also remember that new ideas aren't always good, and old ideas aren't always bad.

 

I tend to think of myself as a liberal because I want things to change, though I am often at loss as to how they should.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think its important to also remember that new ideas aren't always good, and old ideas aren't always bad.

 

Absolutely true. Strictly speaking, Libs tend to embrace new ideas while Cons are more comfortable with the old. But with the interplay of politics, religion and special interests, so many issues, not really related to old Vs new have been adopted by either side.

 

Small government, low taxes, a strong military (incredibly called "defense"), supporting the troops, being a Christian, emphasizing personal responsibility, science and the pros and cons of climate change ..... None of these things are particularly Conservative or Liberal. But each side has taken positions on them based on other influences.

 

 

I tend to think of myself as a liberal because I want things to change, though I am often at loss as to how they should.

 

I identify with that thought.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really dislike the term "liberal" as it is used in the United States, as michijo has pointed out it is largely meaningless. I identify as a socialist or a social democrat, with a strong anarchist streak.

 

Left-wing and Right-wing are much less ambiguous. The left is generally concerned with positive change and with human rights, improving life for those who are oppressed and downtrodden, that kind of thing.

 

The democrat party, while it may be the party of US "liberals" is not always a party of the left.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The thing is, "Liberal" means different things in different countries.

 

In the USA, it seems synonymous with leftists when used perjoritavely. But also many Third Way.

 

I am slightly to the left, and I vote for the Liberal Party here in Canada, but the political party itself has a mix of leftists, Third Way, and even some right-wingers, the main strain running through them is strong federalism... keeping Canada together as one sovereign nation. Of course, for that to happen, you have to be socially liberal because of Canada's cultural make-up.

 

We have a separate genuine leftist party, the NDP, but they are not as federalist, hence why they often attract left-leaning people who support Quebec autonomy.

 

In Australia, a liberal is a right-winger.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The thing is, "Liberal" means different things in different countries.

 

Yes this is the now scrambled inheritance we have from "liberal" in the 18th and 19th centuries. Apparently entropy sets in :D

 

But for the most lazy, Liberal is kinda like umm... anything you feel it should be... like compassion and like sharing and helping everyone forever :huh:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nick4Iowa, ( and all of my other new Liberal friends) , I've been thinking about this question for sixty years or so. As I tried over the years to make sense of exactly what the terms "liberal" vs. "conservative" meant, as you are doing now - not IN CENTURIES PAST, or IN DISTANT PLACES - but in our day here in America, I couldn't find anybody who used the terms who could give a coherent definition of what either term meant. I didn't get much satisfaction by studying esoteric theories, because they didn't seem relevant to our time and place. So what I did was simply look at people and views that people regularly identified as "liberal" vs. "conservative," and try to figure out precisely why everybody seemed to agree on the use of those terms, even when they couldn't say why. I think I've finally cracked the code, and I've recently published my findings at my new LiberalvsConservative.org site.

 

See if you agree and/or let me know if you know of anyone who has done a better job of defining - not just the terms "liberal" vs. "conservative"- but to a great extent, the contrast between the two major political parties in America today.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very comprehensive article Rayosun. Points made with great clarity. Everything is spot-on as far as I'm concerned.

 

Would you mind if I select parts of it and post them in this thread?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×